King County election officials confident voting is secure

There are new concerns this year about the possibility of a cyber-attack to disrupt the election.

RENTON, Wash. -- Visible but impenetrable, only ten people can enter perhaps the most important room at King County Elections.  It's where votes are tabulated and results are produced, and even Election Director Julie Wise cannot get in.

"I"m not even on the list," said Wise.

It's part of the security measures in place at King County Elections designed to protect your vote.  Voting security has become part of the national discussion because of the risk, small according to experts, of cyber attacks impacting the election.

The building is also loaded with live cameras the public can watch at anytime.

Wise said the key protection in King County is the entire tabulation is not connected to the Internet until the last moment.

"We made mistakes in 2004," said Wise, referring to the controversial gubernatorial election between Dino Rossi and Christine Gregoire, "And we've learned.  These measures have been in place since 2009."

However, the threat does exist.  Earlier this year, Washington's Secretary of State acknowledged hackers tried, and failed, to access voter databases.

Washington is one of only three states with a mail-in ballot system.  Other states use a mix of paper ballots, a computerized system with a paper trail and some have no paper trail at all.  Critics believe those systems could be vulnerable.  Dozens of states have sought out help from the Department of Homeland Security to ensure the election runs smoothly.

"What (Homeland Security) has advised is to not have any of your election equipment connected to the Internet," said Wise, "I think that's something we have here.  I'm not sure every jurisdiction in the country can say that."

Copyright 2016 KING


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